Choosing a Mask For a Sleep Apnea Machine

Choosing a mask for a sleep apnea machine is an essential process when using this technology for a better night’s sleep. Many people who been prescribed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine for sleep apnea are thrilled to discover how their new mental sharpness and increased energy affects their life. Getting a good night's sleep is paramount for those people who have suffered for years without getting a diagnosis. However, some people find wearing a CPAP mask extremely uncomfortable, and struggle to find a mask that fits them correctly. It takes approximately two to twelve weeks to get used to wearing a CPAP mask at night, and patients must work through some mild, temporary side effects, including sore eyes, nasal congestion, abdominal bloating and headaches. Finding the correct mask is a process unique to each individual. While there are many types of masks available, the top three most popular CPAP masks include full face masks, nasal pillow masks, and hybrid or multi-fit masks. Consider these questions when searching for the right mask for a sleep apnea machine.

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Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. What should people consider when selecting a CPAP mask?
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    The most important considerations when selecting a mask are comfort, size, and fit. If a person wears glasses, reads, or watches TV in bed, they'll need a mask which permits a wide field of vision. Mouth breathers will probably need either a full-face mask or nasal pillow mask which can be used together with chin-straps. People with facial hair must choose a mask not liable to leak because of an uneven surface area. Many different cushion types are available, including silicone, gel, cloth, and foam.

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  2. Do I need a full face mask?
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    Full face masks are usually triangle-shaped and worn over the mouth, nose, and all or most of the face. Side straps help to keep the CPAP mask in place. These masks are ideal for persons with nasal obstructions or frequent congestion because of cold symptoms or allergies, and for those people used to sleeping on their backs. Drawbacks include a greater possibility of air leakage, and a heavier weight which claustrophobic people dislike. Full-face masks also make it hard to wear glasses, watch TV, or read in bed.

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  3. What are the advantages to nasal pillow masks?
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    Nasal pillow masks have a lightweight minimal design. The mask rests on a person's upper lip and blows air that's been pressurized through two nasal tubes inserted in the nostrils. Pillow masks allow people to wear glasses, watch TV, or read before bedtime. Air leakage is reduced because of nasal direct airflow, and is optimal for active sleepers (turners and tossers) and for people with facial hair. Drawbacks include increased direct air pressure that may cause nasal dryness and nose bleeds, and isn't the best fit for mouth breathers who aren't comfortable breathing through the nose.

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  4. Which nasal masks offer more natural airflow?
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    Triangular-shaped nasal masks fit over a nose and cover the nose bridge down toward the upper lip. They provide a more natural airflow because the pressure delivered isn't as direct. Users requiring high-pressure settings prefer this type, and restless sleepers and side sleepers find that the nasal mask's suction helps to keep it firmly in place. Nasal masks aren't perfect for mouth breathers unless they're used with a chin strap that keeps the jaw closed. Nasal masks can cause pressure irritation, and aren't recommended for people with deviated septums, a narrow or collapsed nasal valve, or an enlarged turbinate.

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  5. Should I use a gel-based mask?
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    Gel-based masks are soft and pliable, and can provide a custom, comfortable fit that adapts to an individual's facial features. CPAP users can choose gel based full face or nasal pillow options. Choices include petite, small, medium, and large silicone cushions.

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  6. Is a hybrid or multi-fit mask right for me?
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    Hybrid masks combine the increased delivery of the nasal mask with the ease of use of the full face mask. CPAP is delivered directly to both the nostrils and the mouth, in comparison with a full-face mask which delivers CPAP to the entire nose and mouth. Combination packs can be purchased that have a number of different sized cushions inside the package. A multi-fit mask may be preferable for people having wider noses.

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  7. How do I know what size mask is right for me?
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    Most nasal and full-face masks have printable sizing templates to help shoppers decide which size will work best for their needs.

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  8. How do I clean my CPAP machine mask?
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    Cleaning masks for sleep apnea is an essential part of using this equipment. Companies that issue CPAP masks can also provide specialized cleaning supplies to keep them clean and in good working order.

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